This Week's Races:
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series:
Friday, May 11, Qualifying @ Darlington Raceway, 3:10 PM ET
Saturday, May 12, Dodge Avenger 500 @ Darlington Raceway, 7:00 PM ET
NASCAR Busch Series:
Friday, May 11, Qualifying @ Darlington Raceway, 5:05 PM ET
Friday, May 11, Diamond Hill Plywood 200 @ Darlington Raceway, 8:30 PM ET
HISTORY HERE: The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) and NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) races this weekend will mark the first time Toyotas have competed at Darlington Raceway since the 2004 season, Toyota's first year participating in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). In that NCTS race during Toyota's series debut, Johnny Benson (sixth) was the top-finishing Tundra driver.
MARKING MOTHER'S DAY: This season marks the 104th NASCAR race at Darlington Raceway, dating back to 1950, and the third-straight year the track is hosting a race on Mother's Day weekend. "My mother is one of the most tolerant people I've ever met," says David Reutimann, driver of the No. 00 Domino's Toyota Camry. "I always try to give her a little something back for all the stuff she put up with over the years. She took good care of me and I owe her a lot for that. She'll be at Darlington with us and hopefully we can have a good day there for her, too."
DALE KNOWS DARLINGTON: Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 44 UPS Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing, has three NNCS wins (1997, 1998 and 2001) and three career poles (1996, 1997 and 1998) at Darlington Raceway. Jarrett's win in 1997 came from the pole and the former series champion's victory in 2001 was the first with long-time sponsor UPS.
MORE ON DALE AND DARLINGTON: In addition to a trio of NNCS wins at Darlington, Jarrett also owns a pair of NBS wins on the 1.366-mile oval. Jarrett scored his first Busch Series win at Darlington in 1990 and followed it up with another victory at the track in 1991. In 54 career Cup and Busch starts at Darlington, the Conover, N.C.-native has posted 17 top-five finishes and has led more than 500 laps.
NEW HEAD TO CREW: Jarrett's new crew chief, Jason Burdett, will make his debut with the No. 44 Michael Waltrip Racing team this weekend at Darlington. "This is a young man I have a lot of confidence in and I know has a lot of ability and has paid attention," says Jarrett, talking about his new crew chief. "Jason worked his way up and he's done everything in the race shop that you could imagine. Now, he's getting the opportunity to show that he's paid attention and he has a good head on his shoulders."
CHATTING ABOUT CHANGES: Last weekend, Jarrett failed to qualify for the race at Richmond, missing his first Cup race since 1994. "This change isn't about a race-to-race case," says Jarrett "Do we want to make every race? Certainly. But, this is about getting to be a good organization with three good race teams and three good race cars by the time we get to the last 10 races this season. If we don't accomplish that, then we're going to be in trouble for 2008. The hard facts are that we have a lot of work to do."
WALTRIP A WINNER: Jarrett isn't the only Toyota driver that has visited victory lane at Darlington. His team owner and driver of the No. 55 NAPA Camry, Michael Waltrip, also has a victory at the South Carolina circuit. Waltrip scored a Busch Series win at Darlington in 1992.
VICTORY FOR VICKERS: Team Red Bull's Brian Vickers joined the list of current Toyota drivers to have won at Darlington in August of 2003, when he scored his second of three career Busch Series wins. Vickers had three wins during his championship-winning season and all three came during a six-race stretch that year between August 2 and Sept. 20. His other wins came at Indianapolis and Dover.
TALKING ABOUT THE TRACK: "Any win at Darlington is a pretty special win because the track has a lot of character and history," says Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Camry. "It's actually my favorite track on the circuit. It's a challenging track for sure. Everyone refers to it as ‘The Lady in Black' because the wall will just reach out and grab you in a heartbeat. You run the race track right up next to the wall. The groove is so close that there's just no room for error."
ALL THREE ARE COT: Vickers' teammate at Red Bull, rookie AJ Allmendinger, made his third start of the season last weekend at Richmond. The Los Gatos, Calif.-native has qualified for three of the four Car of Tomorrow (COT) races. The COT is back in action this weekend at Darlington.
AJ TUNES IN: "I've seen a ton of races at Darlington and I've played it on video games and I'll probably still get there and wonder what the track is all about," says Allmendinger, driver of the No. 84 Red Bull Camry. "I've been making races at some of the most difficult race tracks. We made some gains with the Car of Tomorrow at Richmond and we still have more gains to make, but I'm happy with the progress."
BLANEY BATTLES: Camry driver Dave Blaney started 10th and ran in the top-15 for much of last weekend's NEXTEL Cup race at Richmond, ultimately settling for an 11th-place finish. The finish was the best of the season for Blaney in nine starts, and the second best finish for a Camry in NNCS competition -- behind a 10th-place finish for Vickers at California Speedway. Blaney's best-career NNCS finish came in 2003, a third-place run at Darlington.
BUSCH SERIES STANDING: Heading into this weekend's Busch Series race at Darlington, Camry drivers occupy two of the top-five spots in the current series point standings. On the strength of two top-five finishes and four top-10s in 11 races, Braun Racing's Dave Blaney sits third in points, while Michael Waltrip Racing's David Reutimann is fourth, just 38 points behind Blaney.
HOMECOMING: Trent Owens, crew chief for the No. 10 Camry of Braun Racing, is making a homecoming of sorts this weekend. Owens, born in nearby Florence, S.C., grew up in a racing family and has spent years going to Darlington -- as a fan early on, and now the leader of a top-five Busch Series team.
TRENT TALKS: "I love racing in Darlington because it gives me a chance to go back to my old stomping grounds," says Owens. "Since my family has been in racing my entire life, I can remember being in the garage and pits at Darlington from the time I was five years old. It's always exciting to go home because you have all your friends and family cheering you on and this place brings back some really good memories. It would mean the world to me to get a win at Darlington because the track has so much history and I have all the support of my friends and family with me."
TUNDRA TIME: Tundra drivers occupy five of the top-10 spots in the current NCTS point standings. Points-leader Mike Skinner enjoyed a three-race win streak earlier in the season (California, Atlanta and Martinsville), and leads fellow Tundra drivers Todd Bodine (second), Jack Sprague (fifth), Ted Musgrave (sixth) and Johnny Benson (seventh) in the point standings. On the strength of four wins in five races -- Sprague won the season-opener at Dayton --Toyota also leads the manufacturer standings.
TOYOTAS ON TRACK: Toyota's NEXTEL Cup teams spent Monday and Tuesday (May 7-8) testing at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte preparing for the Coca-Cola 600, May 27. "We've learned some good things at the test," said Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 36 360 OTC Camry. "We're just trying to gain on it as much as we can and get some good notes together so the guys can analyze them back at the shop and figure out where we can get faster when we come back here in a couple weeks."
HAPPY 50TH: Toyota is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the U.S. in 2007. Toyota and its dealers employ about 145,000 workers in the U.S. Toyota operates 11 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and assembles approximately half the vehicles it sells here.
BROADCAST BITS: The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race will be televised on FOX and broadcast on MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 128). NEXTEL Cup qualifying will be televised on SPEED, and broadcast on MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 128). The NASCAR Busch Series race will be televised on ESPN2, and broadcast on MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 128).
BACK STORY: Background information on Toyota's motorsports programs and the manufacturer's NASCAR program is available at www.toyotamotorsports.com.
IMAGES INFORMATION: Members of the media can access Toyota photography by registering at www.toyotamotorsportsmedia.com.
2007 TOYOTA DRIVER/TEAM ROSTER
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Driver Car Team Dave Blaney No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry Bill Davis Racing Jeremy Mayfield No. 36 360 OTC Toyota Camry Bill Davis Racing Dale Jarrett No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing David Reutimann No. 00 Domino's Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing Michael Waltrip No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing AJ Allmendinger No. 84 Red Bull Toyota Camry Team Red Bull Brian Vickers No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry Team Red Bull NASCAR Busch Series Driver Car Team Dave Blaney No. 10 Camping World Toyota Camry Braun Racing Jason Leffler No. 38 Great Clips Toyota Camry Braun Racing David Reutimann No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing
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